The Andrew’s dune scarab beetle is robust, with well-developed flight wings, and a prothorax, scutellum, and abdomen covered with long, pale, fine hairs. The labrum is thin, bilobed, and at least three times wider than long.

photo by Andrew Harvey

The entire known geographic range of the Andrew’s dune scarab beetle is restricted to the Algodones Dunes, a large sand mass extending from Imperial county in southeastern California, 64.4 km northwest to southeast into Baja California, Mexico. Its habitat includes areas of active and partially stabilized dunes with widely scattered perennial vegetation cover. P. andrewsi have been observed flying around bushes after twilight emergence, including creosote (Larrea tridentata), California buckwheat, (Eriogonum deserticola), Palo Verde (Cercidium floridum), and desert needle (Palafoxia arida). During the day the beetles are buried at the interface between wet and dry sand, at depths varying from 5 to 30 cm. P. andrewsi is active on the dune surface for only 10 to 30 minutes an evening for 3 to 4 months, in breeding clusters only 2 to 3 m wide, and for the rest of the year it lives buried in the sand.

Habitat for this species has suffered destruction and modification by extensive off-road vehicle use during the past three decades. Current and proposed management of the species’ habitat by the Bureau of Land Management allows ORV use in the overwhelming majority of the areas known to harbor the species. Without management measures that prohibit ORV use in the majority of the species’ habitat, the Andrew’s dune scarab beetle faces a real and imminent threat to its continued existence in the wild.

photo by Andrew Harvey

On December 12, 2002, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the Andrew's dune scarab beetle as an endangered species. As of December 2002, the Bureau of Land Management is proposing a new management plan that not only fails to directly protect the beetle, but also eliminates interim closures designed to protect the Peirson's milkvetch, a threatened plant found at the Dunes. The elimination of these interim closures will further imperil the Andrew’s dune scarab beetle, necessitating its protection under the ESA.

graphic Andrew Rodman ©2002
May 27, 2003
Go back